Cheap, hurried sale - 2
WITH MODESTO P. SA-ONOY
Despite the attempts of Monico Puentevella to hurriedly sell the Manokan Country for half its true assessed value, this sale will not come easy. In fact if he forces it through, it can just add to his already politically and personally deadly cases before the Ombudsman. One more case will surely be filed. Anyway he declared a few months ago that his opponents can line up and he insinuated that he will demolish them all.
Granting that the majority of the Sanggunian will succumb to Puentevella's enticements and inducements, the sale of Manokan cannot push through as fast as he wants before he is suspended from office due to overpriced purchase of computers. As of this writing he is not yet suspended but that will come, sooner if not later.
The assessment of the new assessors that succeeded Maphilindo Polvora is significant in its disparity. If the difference between the first (Polvora's) and second appraisals are close, one can assume a few differences in basal data. However the discrepancy is so huge that we can suspect that something is terribly wrong or manipulated.
What was the basis of Polvora's appraisal and that of the new assessors that the difference is almost by half? The Sanggunian committees that are supposed to study these assessments had been taking their sweet time, in fact, months after the two assessments were made available.
One question that bugs us is why this great chasm between the two appraisals. Was Polvora incompetent despite his long years as the city assessor that he was relieved forthwith? If so, did he not head the group that prepared the land values for the Real Estate Property Tax last year? Why was he competent then in a more complicated matter and incompetent in a minor one? Or was he removed because he did the right thing and Puentevella needed people who can be bludgeoned to bend to his will, anomalous as it might seem?
I pity the new assessors if the case for conspiracy to commit graft included them. A group is already preparing such a case.
There is ground to believe that the second appraisal was made to suit the offer of SM, rather than the real value of the property as real estate brokers are saying. SM must be a special client, or did it offer anything other than the price of the lot?
The proposal to sell will, of course, go to the Commission on Audit in the event the reported P3 million grease money succeeds among the SPM (an acronym recently coined to mean “Stamping Pad ni Monico” referring to councilors who follow whatever Monico wants). Many hope that this cheap, hurried sale will come to a halt on its track when the Commission on Audit studies it because the price the SPM (referring to city employees) Appraisal Committee is simply outrageous.
The COA will undertake its own independent valuation and considering the real value of the property, it will not approve the sale. Of course we cannot discount the influence of SM inside COA, but the links of
SM are no longer there.
In fact, it is too cheap that other bidders might come in. Of course if the city's Bid and Awards Committee will act in the same way as the SPM Appraisal Committee, the other bidders can be “disqualified”. I hope they will think deeply about their future because the Ombudsman appears to be allergic to manipulated bidding processes and these employees may end up losing in the end.
There are other obstacles. The displaced tenants in the area have to be relocated in accordance with law and as Councilor El Cid Familiarian said, there is no relocation site for them, ergo they cannot just be displaced to suit Puentevella's whims or, clearly, his fund raising plans.
We can understand the hurry of Puentevella because his preventive suspension is just a matter of days, if not served at the time this column comes out. Once suspended, the hurried sale also comes to a screeching halt because I doubt that Vice Mayor Greg Gasataya who will take over as Bacolod City Mayor will take a step to push the sale.
Once Puentevella is suspended, the SPM will be contemplating hard on the risks they will be taking. Will they gamble their political life and personal freedom to serve a person who will likely end up in the political garbage heap? Smart politicians would not take that risk, in fact they will jump out of a sinking ship.*
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